Cross-posted to Rough Cut
On Tuesday, Owen Beck attempted to testify, unsuccessfully. Raiding California told the tale of Owen Beck, a teenager that lost his leg to bone cancer, and found relief from excruciating phantom pain only from marijuana.
The government continued the examination of DEA agent Rachel Burkdol, going straight through 65 pieces of evidence from the raid, describing, in detail, photographs of display cases, offices, computers, and products, as well as copies of computer files, financial records, bank statements, and notebooks, all of which were seized during the raid. This took the entire morning, and went into the afternoon, after lunch.
Before lunch, an earthquake hit the courtroom, interrupting the proceedings. When the council attempted to continue, a voice on the loudspeaker with emergency information about the earthquake repeatedly interrupted, so the court broke for lunch.
After lunch, the defense wanted to interrupt the prosecution's all-day examination of Burkdol to bring in Owen Beck. The defense didn't want Beck and his family to have to wait through another day of the trial because no one had anticipated how long the prosecution would drag on with their presentation of evidence seized from the raid.
Judge Wu had warned the defense that Beck's testimony would need to be relevant, and would need proper foundation. The defense attempted to bring him in as a character witness, a witness who could testify as to Lynch's moral and law-abiding nature.
The nineteen-year-old Beck entered the crowded courtroom on crutches. He showed not even a hint of intimidation despite a powerful silence from a room full of observers. He was sworn in, and began to answer questions from Cohen, one of the defense attorneys. When Cohen asked how Beck knew Lynch, Beck began to answer in a confident, direct voice, that he was diagnosed with bone cancer, and obtained a prescription from his Stanford oncologist for marijuana, at which point the government immediately objected. Wu sustained the objection, and quickly sent the jury out of the room. The council deliberated on whether or not Beck's testimony was legitimate. Wu explained that Beck had no foundational basis to testify about Lynch's law-abiding nature, since he only knew him in the context of the lawsuit itself, being a patient who patronized the dispensary. Even though Beck did form a close relationship with Lynch over the two years he knew Charlie, corresponding by e-mail at least every three weeks, Wu found this to be insufficient foundation. According to Wu, the testimony apparently would have violated a rule, 404, by attempting to confuse the jury. That Beck could testify as to how Lynch was a law-abiding citizen with regard to state laws made no difference to Wu; he saw this as a red herring since federal laws were in question here. Wu had not elaborated to what a character witness could testify. If the defense wanted a character witness to explain how Lynch was a law-abiding citizen, there was never any clarification that this meant only federal law. Regardless, Beck was dismissed from the courtroom, and the jury was instructed to disregard anything he said at all.
The prosecution continued on with Burkdol, jumping to footage from security cameras inside the store, and more evidence turned up from the raid.
The trial continues tomorrow.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Cross-posted to Rough Cut
Posted by Seth Goldin at 2:54 AM